Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the woman’s ovary. Most of these cancers start on the surface of the ovaries. This is mainly due to its epithelial nature. However, research has also suggested that it may arise from the fallopian tubes (Piek, Diest, and Verheijen 83). Others may also develop from the egg and supporting cells. The exact cause of this cancer is mostly unknown. However, several factors increase the risks of developing ovarian cancer. For example, older women who have no children have a higher risk. Those with a family history of the disease are also at risk because it is hereditary. Women who undergo postmenopausal hormone therapy increase their chances of getting the disease (Hunn and Rodriguez 16).
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Various factors have also been identified to reduce the risks of ovarian cancer. For example, women who use oral contraceptives are not likely to get the disease. The same applies to those who use low doses of hormonal contraception. It is suggested that these chemicals have a protective effect as far as ovarian cancer is concerned. Research also suggests that women who have undergone tubal ligation are less likely to get the disease. The same applies to women who breastfeed their children.
Some of the signs and symptoms of the disease include pains in the abdomen and pelvic area. The woman may also have trouble eating and may develop urinary problems. Bloating is also a common symptom. These symptoms and signs are mostly absent during the early stages of the disease or may be subtle (Goff 187). Other symptoms include weight loss, constipation, and back pains.
This disease has a low prognosis. Unfortunately, there are no early detection and screening tests. For this reason, it is mostly diagnosed during its advanced stages. Several complications may arise from the disease. For example, it may spread to other organs or cause loss of function of the organs. This occurs because the cancer cells that are shed may be transferred to the fluids around. The cells could then implant on surrounding structures. These structures include the bowel, urinary bladder, and uterus. Intestinal obstruction is also a likely complication.
In order to diagnose the disease, it is necessary to start with a physical examination. A blood test and a transvaginal ultrasound examination would also be necessary. In order to confirm the presence of cancer, it is necessary to perform surgery and analyze samples of the tissue. Treatment of the disease involves surgery and chemotherapy. Sometimes, radiotherapy is done. Some forms of cancer only require surgery to eliminate them. They include those that are confined to the ovary and can be differentiated. However, the more aggressive ones may require the use of both surgery and chemotherapy. Surgery is usually the preferred option and is expected to improve health if done by a specialist.
Chemotherapy is usually conducted after surgery. It helps treat any residual disease. Sometimes, it is necessary to perform chemotherapy before performing surgery. However, some types of tumors do not respond to chemotherapy. Radiotherapy is usually used in the treatment of ovarian cancer at its early stages. It is not appropriate in the treatment of the disease in its advanced stages because vital organs could be in the view of the radiation field. In some cases, immunotherapy may be used together with chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Goff, Barbara. “Ovarian cancer: screening and early detection.” Obstetrics and gynecology clinics of North America 39.2 (2012): 183-194. Print.
Hunn, Jessica, and Gustavo Rodriguez. “Ovarian cancer: etiology, risk factors, and epidemiology.” Clinical obstetrics and gynecology 55.1 (2012): 3-23. Print.
Piek , Jurgen, Paul van Diest, and René Verheijen. “Ovarian carcinogenesis: an alternative hypothesis.” Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 622.1 (2008): 79–87. Print.